Stoke Mandeville Hospital, where Savile worked as a volunteer and is alleged to have sexually assaulted many sick and disabled children, has launched an investigation into his unaccompanied mortuary visits.

In an interview in 1990 with Q magazine, the former BBC TV and radio host spoke of his interest in dead bodies, going on to deny he was a necrophiliac despite no accusation being made.

“Some people get hold of the fact that Jim likes looking after cadavers and say, ‘Aha, Jim’s a necrophiliac!’ I’m not a necrophiliac.” he said.

“One of my jobs is to take away the deceased. You can look after somebody, be alone with somebody, who has lived a whole lifetime, and I’m just saying goodbye and looking after him.”

The hospital is probing whether he had keys to the mortuary or “interacted inappropriately” with corpses.

A spokesman said: “We have been shocked to hear of the very serious allegations about Jimmy Savile. We continue to co-operate fully with the police. We are working closely with our staff and will support them in reporting to the police should they have any information.”